Monday, 25 October 2010

The Number 113 Route

Edgware Bus Garage to Oxford Circus   
Tuesday June 23rd 2009

Glorious summer’s day with temperatures in the twenties.

This route was in fact the third leg of a trip hinged onto the 18, and not surprisingly duplicated a significant part of the 13 route, which Mary and Linda had covered only four weeks earlier. It was therefore a slightly jaded trio that boarded at Edgware with a first priority of eating lunch, so the notes and photos may reflect this inattention to detail during the start of the route. In any case it went so fast along the dual carriageway bits it was quite hard to pinpoint the sights.

At 1.30 PM we drove right out of Edgware bus station to complete the High Street – largely fast food – and before we could focus we were on the Watford Way, heading back into town. Just before Apex Corner (these days more a major intersection than a humble corner) we crossed over the MI Motorway far below and then past the Barnet Copthall school playing fields (originally a school of the same name but with a cinder track built in 1964 used by Sally Gunnell when she was in training for her Olympics) and Mill Hill Circus and park. However, the 113 is not a bus to mess with hills so does not venture to seek out any Mills on Hills as it feels a need for speed so carried over Bunns Bridge Lane and 5 ways corner – at least that one is a more accurate description of yet another major road junction.

Although this is largely a residential area with small parades of shops (Kosher biltong anyone?) the only way for pedestrians to get across the road would be by the occasional subway or very tall footbridge. Throughout this is a Red Route so out of the rush hour we did not linger and passengers were not that numerous.

We did slow down towards Hendon – The Burroughs – its war memorial and what remains of the 1930s architecture that graced the approach to Hendon Central Station, a spacious colonnade (see photo of Colindale also) with nearby cinema that was so typical of Metroland. The bus then flew past Brent Cross, that North London temple to Mammon and one of the first out of town mall type developments, which was in the planning stage while I was growing up nearby. The fact the 113 does not detour for shoppers indicates its wish to be taken seriously so it continues up what is by now the Hendon Way (are we noticing a pattern here?) and past my lovely old Primary School, Wessex Gardens Junior Mixed and Infants – classes of 48, multi-cultural and no sign of a national curriculum – notwithstanding we all made it through thanks to Middlesex County Council education!

We watched the way the Palm Hotel was extending itself along the Hendon Way, then the A1 joins the Finchley Road meaning we were firmly back on the Number 13 route, where we were offered Orthoworld (not a theme park – get your teeth fixed here). Adjacent to the Finchley Road & Frognal Station (we were well away from Brent or even Barnet councils and firmly back in Camden by now) is the O2 centre comprising cinemas and eateries. The trees on the Finchley Road obscure the back of South Hampstead School – my other old school: both in one trip! – and then we were at Swiss Cottage. Jo was instructed to note the QK school (the logo even has an archery target as part of the logo) and told its origins and then we were on past the private hospitals, the flowers on the balconies of the Wellington looking very colourful.

The Lords Pod looms though it is hard to capture on camera, but we did manage with George and the Dragon at the Roundabout, a tribute Great War memorial by Charles Leonard Hartwell which is in fact a copy of one already in Newcastle. Landmarks come thick and fast – is that gorgeous house and garden on the corner ambassadorial or merely the London Business School? – over the canal and past the very gleaming Central Mosque.

Nipping into Regents Park might have been a rather more pleasant prospect than sitting on a slightly sticky bus, which was about to go very slowly. We think the LBS has bought up some very nice shop fronts. Further along Baker Street is the Lighthouse Building, allegedly the M&S headquarters, which during the war they handed over for use as the Special Operations Executive (SOE) headquarters: today it seemed to have a reception desk but absolutely no sign of what was there so either the recession has emptied it or it continues to be anonymously secret. Portman Square looked cool and quite inviting and stepping out to the left would have got us into Manchester Square and the Wallace Collection.

As we inched past Selfridges we noticed they had forsaken their lovely windows (see the 13) for brash SALE signs.  There was a Blue Plaque for William Pitt known to have outstayed his welcome, which is a bit how we felt as we inched our way along Oxford Street (not again they cried) – another example of  ‘if we weren’t on the Project we would have got off and walked’ but taking the day as a whole we covered three entire routes, this one taking 1½ hours.

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